Going in to the recording of Defy, Of Mice & Men may have seemed like a band with their backs against the wall. This album, their fifth, would be the first without Vocalist Austin Carlisle, so the world was waiting to see where they went next.
The Lineup change aside, Defy is business as usual for Of Mice & Men. Continuing on the path they started with Restoring Force, this is another album packed full of polished bangers that don’t reinvent the band, but does solidify their status as one of the premier rock acts in America right now.
Bassist Aaron Pauley is now front and center as the band’s frontman, expanding his vocal range and depth in the process. Listeners will be familiar with his singing voice as the melodic side of the band, but he more than holds his own he is called up to scream in the albums harder moments.
By now you will have likely heard the singles Unbreakable and Back to Me, both of which give you a fair indication of the album as a whole. Big muscular riffs wrapped around sweeping soaring choruses designed for arenas and bothering the airwaves. The title track is a bouncing rallying cry about standing up for yourself and defying those who want to hold you down. As far as album openers go, its right up there with the best of them.
This is an album that decides to take everything the band has done up to this point and refine it, rather than trying to take any drastic chances, which is a safe move but does leave the album lacking in surprises. With that said, there is a cover of the Pink Floyd classic Money on here which is unexpected and does seem a little out of place, but it doesn’t derail the album’s momentum and is sure to become a talking point among fans.
The albums best track is actually the album closer if we were ghosts, an atmospheric heartfelt showcase for Aaron’s clean vocals and strips the band back a bit. It works as a spiritual companion to Another You from Restoring Force and proves that Of Mice and Men are a multi-faceted band capable of not only making you mosh, but can also pull on your heartstrings.
Defy is a triumph for Of Mice & Men that shows the real heart and soul of the band is still very much alive and well. This is the sound of a band knowing exactly who they are and coming out swinging with an album that is likely to take them to new heights and may go down as their career defining moment.
Defy is released tomorrow (19th January 2018) on Rise Records.